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|Articles - October 2013|
|Monday, September 30, 2013|
BY HANNAH WALLACE
Cultivating Profit. Oyster farming is a tricky business — you can’t wantonly meet demand or you won’t have any oysters left to sell. And you’re reliant on the health of the oceans, which have been acidifying in recent years, making it hard for oyster larvae to mature. Yet Oregon Oyster Farms co-owner Xin Liu is striking a balance between conservation and profit. Over the past 16 years, he has grown revenue from $700,000 annually to $1.6 million. The company had just nine employees when Liu and two partners bought it from Newport Pacific in 1997. Today his staff numbers 25, including shuckers, packers, drivers, field crew and retail workers.
Clamoring for more. Liu, who sold a few million oysters last year, all from his 500-acre site on Yaquina Bay, is in the enviable position of having more domestic demand than he can supply, even as demand surges from Asia. In addition to supplying Oregon restaurants, he has a standing order from New York City’s Grand Central Oyster Bar for Kumamoto and Pacific oysters. About 10-15% of his oyster harvest is flown to Taiwan and China. Yet Liu has had to turn down eager buyers from Hong Kong and San Francisco, who have been awaiting his oysters for years. “Hong Kong keeps bugging me,” Liu says. “But I don’t have enough to sell to Hong Kong.”
Consider the Oyster Bed. Last fall Liu and Mark Wiegardt from Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery purchased Pearl Point Oyster Company, which included a 72-acre oyster bed in Netarts Bay. “Netarts Bay is one of the cleanest bays on the West Coast,” says Liu. “It produces very good briny oysters.” There they plan to grow smaller-size Kumamoto and Pacific oysters; larger ones will be harvested in Yaquina Bay. Liu calls these 7- to 10-inch oysters, which can take as long as seven years to grow and command top dollar in China, “oyster steaks.” Though he won’t know for another 18 months what the growth rate and density is like in Netarts Bay, Liu hopes to have enough oysters to start selling to San Francisco restaurants — and perhaps a few lucky Hong Kong buyers — by next summer.
Conservation beckons. In addition to the Pacific and the Kumamoto, Liu grows the recently reintroduced Olympias — “Olys” — which are native to the West Coast. Prized for their diminutive size and tangy flavor, Olys were overharvested and nearly wiped out a century ago. Recently Liu started working with the Wetlands Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy and local Siletz tribes to ramp up restoration efforts in Yaquina Bay. “It’s really hard to get this population back,” says Liu, noting it takes Olys two and a half to three years to grow to the size of a half-dollar coin. Despite their cult-like popularity, Liu only sells Olys in limited quantities — five to 10 dozen a week. A model of restraint, Xin Liu aims to show that running a profitable shellfish farm is not mutually exclusive with managing the ocean’s resources responsibly.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A place-based multimodal transportation plan for Mt. Hood is long overdue.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation.
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.
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The official launch will be Jan. 14.
In a switch on the traditional trade show, representatives from UO departments and local and state agencies will host tables to connect with businesses and vendors. The fourth Reverse Vendor Fair will take place Wednesday, Feb. 25, in Eugene.